The `Aqrabi inhabited a district the coast-line of which stretched from Bir Ahmad to Ras Amran. This tribe had a high reputation for courage. The `Aqrabi sheikhs separated from the Sultanate of Lahej in the 18th century. In 1839, the nearby port of Aden became an outpost of British Empire and British influence on the `Aqrabis began to grow. The sheikhdom was one of the original "Nine Cantons" that signed protection agreements with Great Britain in the late 19th century and became part of the Aden Protectorate. It became a British protectorate in 1888.
The state joined the Federation of Arab Emirates of the South in February 1960 and the Federation of South Arabia in January 1963. The last sheikh, Mahmud ibn Muhammad Al `Aqrabi, was deposed on 28 August 1967 and the sheikhdom was abolished in November 1967 upon the founding of the People's Republic of South Yemen.